Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Braised Leek, Bacon & Parmesan Calzone

The flexibility of culinary methods and ingredients across recipes has always interested me.  For example, I made dough for pizza.  What else could I use it for?  Calzone, that's what!


As a kid growing up in New York City, I found calzone intimidating.  That yeasty, swollen envelope could encompass a whole world, and if I opened up one, well, then that world would end.  One day, my curiosity got the better of me, and I ate one.  Lo and behold, its world became a happy part of me!  I am a staunch advocate for finger food -- it's fun, it's convenient, less stuff to wash up, and you get to lick your fingers!

Ingredients
(makes 4 calzone, several breadsticks)

  • Leeks, thoroughly washed, white & light green, tender parts, sliced, 417 grams/4 1/4 cups*
  • Butter, sweet, 30 grams/2 T (if salted butter is used, you may need less additional salt)
  • Bacon, 8 slices
  • Red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp
  • Parmesan, fresh grated, 8 T
  • Pizza Dough, preferably home-made or already prepared (enough for four, seven-inch pies or the equivalent)
  • Olive oil, for glazing
  • Salt, 1/4 tsp

*American measure, that is, 8 oz cups 

Why leeks you may ask?  The leeks I planted last spring will start to go to seed as they are biennials. When gone to seed, veggies often turn bitter so I harvested the remaining leeks.


Fry or broil the bacon.  Blot off the excess fat and when cool, crumble into small pieces. Gather the rest of the ingredients.


Melt the butter in a skillet, add the sliced leeks, red pepper flakes, and about 1/4 tsp of salt and simmer, while covered, for about 15 minutes until tender.  If necessary, add a tiny bit of water to keep them from browning.  You want the leeks to be succulent. 


Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F.  Place the leeks in a strainer positioned over a bowl and using a spoon press out as much liquid as possible.


Mix the bacon pieces into the strained leeks.


Divide into four portions and reserve.


Roll out roughly an approximately six-inch circle of dough about 1/8th inch thick on a floured surface.


Using a plate approximately 6 inches wide as a template, cut out a neat circle.


Spread evenly one portion of the filling on one half of the dough circle, keeping one inch of the edge bare.  Sprinkle with two tablespoons of grated Parmesan.  With a finger, moisten with water the circumference, making sure you do not wet the exact edge as it will make the underside gummy, making transfer of the calzone to a baking sheet problematic.


Pull the empty half over the filled one, stretching the dough gently to make ends meet.  Seal completely the two edges, leaving a flattened inch of rim while pushing the filling together as much as possible to eliminate air pockets. Crimp as in making dumplings.  Lift it with a wide spatula and place on parchment-lined baking trays.  Repeat the entire process for the other three Calzone.

Gather scraps of dough into a ball and pull off two-inch lumps.  While splaying your fingers, roll out the lumps into breadsticks, making sure you work on a clean surface, free of any flour.  Also wash your hands to ensure they are not floury.  Or else you will get flattened sticks and not nice round ones.


Bake the calzone and breadsticks for about twenty minutes until nicely browned.  Place them on a wire rack and using a pastry brush, a piece of paper towel, or your fingers, coat each calzone with olive oil for a nice sheen and also for additional flavour.

The Calzone are sharing the wire-rack with a heap of freshly picked thyme



They are best warm.  However, they can be eaten cold with little loss of flavour.  They also can be frozen and reheated in a covered dish in a 350 degrees F oven for about 20 minutes or in a microwave.  The breadsticks are delicious eaten hot, but if not eaten immediately, cool them, and put them in an airtight container or else they get soggy.  They could be crisped in the oven.


In the garden, signs of spring are continuing.  Soon the first veggie of the season can be harvested, pea shoots!  They go well with pasta and omelettes.



Though tulips are lovely, most do not naturalise and need to be replaced regularly.  Therefore, I plant species tulips like the splendid Fosteriana ones with their varied, bright hues which do stick around and increase on their own.




Until my nursery order with its asparagus crowns, onion sets, seed potatoes, and bare-root blueberries arrives--I needed to cancel my original order placed two months ago because of various problems and recently ordered from other nurseries--I will be focused on runcation (weeding!), transplanting, mowing/strimming, taking cuttings to generate more plants, and looking over our garden's wall at this splendid ornamental cherry tree shaking out its pink coverlet of blossoms.

The front garden:  Prunier d'Ente in the foreground



Dayo is staying out more and more so we need to be vigilant on maintaining his flea control program.  After all, his vet is fond of saying that cats are just restaurants for fleas.

I love how he aeroplanes his ears that way!

À la prochaine.

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